Posted by: floydreport | September 15, 2012

Recognizing Our Own Mortality

I’ve been sitting on a number of blogs to write. They’ve been in my head for a while, piling up while I try to find time to write them on my computer, and then upload to this website. Most of which are movie reviews that my good friend Matt were looking forward to reading.

Matthew Eubanks

Matthew Eubanks and I met while we attended A. R. Johnson Health Sciences and Engineering Magnet High School in Augusta, Georgia. We were only a couple months apart, but with his birthday in July and mine in September, he was a grade ahead of me (thank you, school system regulations). Nevertheless, we bonded to form a strong friendship that lasted through our High School years.

After Matt and I graduated, we lost touch as many classmates do. But, with the wonderful invention of Facebook and social networking, I was able to reconnect with Matt a few years ago. He was now living in Brunswick, Georgia and I was in Smyrna, Georgia. As we updated each other on our experiences in life, we found out that, even though hundreds of miles apart, we were living similar lives! We both had worked for grocery store chains… and hated it. Then, we were both working in television as Master Control Operators… and hating that, too!

Last year, Matt began to have severe health problems. He was constantly in and out of the hospital. Yet, despite the issues he was going through, he always kept a positive attitude. He strived to get healthy. He had two children from a previous marriage whom he adored, and he wanted to get better to be there for them. However, every turn it seemed he was facing new obstacles. If it wasn’t issues with his ex, he was having issues with his car, or with Social Security, or just strife living in an area he completely loathed. Yet, through all of these issues, he continued to make people laugh and keep a positive attitude.

Matt, with his son Avery and daughter Brittany. They were his world. He loved them so much!

Over the summer, things were looking good. He had mentioned to me that he was going to have surgery that was going to be lifestyle changing, but life saving as well. I had just launched a podcast over the Memorial Day Holiday with a coworker, and Matt was consulting me on it. He was always encouraging, and had ideas for show topics. My sister received her Masters from Savannah State University and, while I was down there for her graduation, I was going to schedule to meet up with him. Sadly, he had a bad weekend health-wise, and with all that was going on, we couldn’t work it in. In late July, we found out we would be in Augusta around the same time. But, I was driving down Sunday to pick up my son from my Mom’s, and he was driving back Sunday home to Brunswick. So, we would just miss each other. We thought we would have plenty time to get together.

August was a busy time in the Hillman household. Our son, DaKaari, was starting the 1st Grade. The weekend of DaKaari’s first week of school, we attended the District Convention of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Plus, it was the start of football season. Excitement was in the air!

Sunday, September 9, 2012 was, for the most part, a very good day. We had a great meeting, a very encouraging talk followed by an even more encouraging Watchtower study. Then, we went to lunch at Cracker Barrel with some friends from our congregation. After that, we went to visit my wife’s father at the rehab facility (in July 2010, he had an accident at work that caused a traumatic brain injury). There was a small scare with him that morning. He had experienced a seizure which caused him to fall and be injured. Happily, though, unlike his usual round of seizures, this was a single episode, so the hospital was able to discharge him by the afternoon, and he was back at the facility by the time we went to visit him.

When we got home, we changed out of our formal wear, got comfortable, and sat down for Sunday Night Football on NBC. At a point in the game, I thought it would be good to check Facebook. That is when I saw the barrage of RIPs. I was devastated! My friend was gone!

Upon further inquiry, I found out in late August he was, again, fighting with the system as he was denied health care due to, basically, the system’s own incompetence. On Tuesday, September 4th, he was admitted into the hospital and put on a ventilator. He fought until Sunday, September 9th. Then, this strong, enduring, big-hearted man couldn’t fight anymore.

As I age further into my 30s, death is surrounding me too much. In October 2006, I lost my nephew to a tragic work accident. In May 2010, a dear friend of our family who was DaKaari’s baby sitter, but more like a mother to Anitra and I, lost her fight with cancer. In June 2010, my father succumbed to failing health and advancing age. Two weeks after my father’s death, my wife’s Stepfather succumbed to a stroke he could never fully recover from. One month later, in July 2010, my wife’s father experienced his accident at work, causing the traumatic brain injury that leaves him under constant supervised care. In April 2011, Facebook was the source that provided news of the sudden death of our A.R. Johnson alum Candi Young-Grier. Then, in April of this year, the A.R. Johnson family was devastated yet again with the sudden death of Ennis Koonce. Now, in September, we lose Matthew.

If there’s anything we can learn from this, death can come at any time. Our life is not guaranteed, for Ecclesiastes 9:11 tells us that time and unforeseen occurrences befall us all. However, that doesn’t mean that our future is empty. 2 Peter 3:11 speaks of a “new heavens and a new earth that we are awaiting according to his promise, and in these righteousness is to dwell.” Regardless of our faith, background and beliefs, I’m sure we all appreciate how precious life is and, when we are confronted with death, can appreciate how fast time can move, and see how fast our lives can pass before our eyes. Take the time, dear reader, to let your loved ones know how much you love and care for them. Let them know how much you cherish them and the time you’re with them. Tell them how much you think about them. We never know when the moment we take with someone will be the last moment we have with them. I thank you very much for taking the time to share this moment with me. And know that I love you, dear reader.

Posted by: floydreport | June 12, 2012

If The Mayans Are Right…

Then Hollywood is going out with a HUGE bang in the Summer Blockbuster category. So many movies are highly anticipated to go above and beyond this summer, and if “Marvel’s The Avengers” is the beginning, well, it’s surely going to be a big grand finale… I hope.

Floyd’s Movie Review: Marvel’s The Avengers

By now, anybody that’s wanted to see this movie already have. I’ve seen it 2 times, but it was worth it. Right out of the gate, this movie started out strong. In the “three times a charm” category, they found a perfect Bruce Banner/Hulk in Mark Ruffalo. The writing was there, the special effects were there and the acting was certainly there. Even when there had to be slow parts for storyline, they were just enough to piece the movie together. Not a whole lot of romance, but that’s not what Marvel fans come to see. However, there is an emotional part that *almost* made me cry. I won’t give it away for the handful that hasn’t seen it. You should. And, stick around after the full credits. It’s well worth it.

 

Trebek Rating: -8

Floyd’s Movie Review: Men In Black III

Expectations are not high for this third installment of the Men In Black Series. The guys in the black suits with single-letter names are the “border patrol” for Earth in the intergalactic spectrum. Okay, yeah, we got that. Some alien foe has a grudge with Earth, or someone on it, and wants to destroy the planet, and the MIB are the only ones that can fight them. Yeah, we got that, too. However, this one still had a few surprises. It built on back stories, some you don’t see coming. And, it had its standard “Will Smith” humor branded throughout the film. Bottom line: If you’re a Will Smith fan, you’ll like the film. If you’re not a Will Smith fan, you probably didn’t watch the other two, so you don’t care anyway. The biggest negative is that the creepy, ugly bad guy alien is REALLY creepy (my 6yr old son didn’t like the movie solely because of him. So, parents of kids that liked the first two, you might want to check it out before letting them see it first), which may be inappropriate for young audiences. Otherwise, it also had a moment that *almost* made me cry.

Trebek Rating: -4

Floyd’s Movie Review: Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted

The New York Zoo’s most lovable foursome… plus crazy penguins and a slew of monkeys and that nutty King Julian are all back in another fun-filled adventure. This one picks up where the other left off: Alex and the gang are in the wildlife preserve in Africa while Skipper, his bobble-head bride, the penguin crew and monkeys head off for Skipper’s honeymoon in Monte Carlo. Supposedly, the crew was supposed to come back and pick up the gang after the honeymoon and take them back to New York, but Alex is having his doubts. Not satisfied with the preserve life, they set out on a mission to grab the penguins and head back to New York. But, snags fall along the way and they end up hiding out with a fledgling circus that could be heading to America if a big-time promoter likes their show. Giving the familiarity of the other two, there are even more laughs in this one. Again, I have to say great writing, great casting, great animation. Again, an all-around great movie.

Trebek Meter: -7

The one movie that I had intended on seeing and haven’t is Battleship. The previews make it look good, but I haven’t heard real good news about it. And, the fact they heavily promoted that singer Rihanna is in it (which is usually the tell-tale sign of a bad movie when the “big draw” is a pop singer that’s rarely, if ever, acted) makes me very leary that this movie might not be any good. I may wait for the DVD… or at least the budget theater!

This is just the tip of the iceberg. Speaking of icebergs: Another Ice Age movie is coming out this summer, along with The Amazing Spiderman, Batman: The Dark Knight Rises and 007: Skyfall. This is sure to be a serious Blockbuster Summer! Maybe the Mayans are right!

Posted by: floydreport | February 22, 2012

Floyd’s Food Review: Smashburger

My good friend and coworker, Wendi Hays, and I were discussing local eateries; particularly, burger joints. She had asked me if I had ever been to Smashburger. Since I had never heard of Smashburger before, I had replied with an obligatory no. In the Atlanta metro area, a number of new and good burger joints have popped up in the past few years. Two of the more famous ones are Yeah! Burger and Flip. Flip is owned by Richard Blais, of Top Chef Fame. Both of these joints are near in proximity to midtown Atlanta.

Standing in line at Smashburger

Wendi’s never been to Yeah! Burger, and neither one of us have been to Flip. We both like Five Guys and, once a great burger institution, both of us agree that Fuddruckers has gone down the toilet and definitely do NOT have the “world’s greatest burger.” Even armed with this knowledge of burger cuisine, Wendi had a difficult time explaining Smashburger to me. I mean, how could she? This is an innovative place; a modern twist on a classic American culinary delight. But, how can you improve on a common hamburger?

Clean and modern decor

There’s lots of ways, truthfully. First and foremost, most of us are gouged to death by the pre-fabricated, mostly frozen burger patties that may or may not contain 100 percent beef. The old saying “fresh tastes best” definitely holds true to a common burger. But, one of the big problems with getting a fresh burger is that you have to pay a premium price for premium beef. Or, you’re paying for that and atmosphere.

Anitra's veggie burger and sweet potato fries.

Not at Smashburger. The atmosphere is warm and inviting. The decor is modern, but not stuck up as some modern places feel. When you walk it, you’re greeted by a sign that asks you to grab a menu and proceed to the counter. As you approach, you’re greeted by warm, welcoming associates and a quad of plasma screens that repeat the menu, as well as enticing videos showcasing the food, as well as explaining what makes a smashburger (basically, it’s not molded in one of those burger cylinders, but it’s in meatball shape when placed on the griddle, then smashed into the familiar burger patty). The beef is 100 percent Angus, and the taste demonstrates that.

Barbecue, Bacon And Cheddar (substituted with blue cheese) and chili cheese fries

We took a family outing to sample Smashburger for ourselves. I ordered the Barbecue, bacon and cheddar. But, instead of cheddar, I substituted blue cheese. And, I had a side of chili cheese fries. Anitra ordered a black bean veggie burger with sweet potato fries on the side. And DaKaari had a kids Smashburger with cheese. Happily, we got there before a big rush, but even then, food was flying out of the kitchen. I have to say, at first bite, I was impressed. The meat was juicy, cooked to perfection, and the taste exploded with freshness. If there was any downside, I’d have to say it was the chili on the fries. It tasted canned and of the Castleberry or Hormel variety.

Tasty shakes that rival Steak N Shake

It was filling, but not overwhelming. So, DaKaari and I braved the rush line and ordered two milkshakes. A Butterfinger for me and an Oreo for DJ. They feature Haagan-Dazs ice cream, hand dipped and served in a glass and the metal blending cup. At four bucks a shake, it sounded a little pricy, but it was all worth it.

Speaking of all worth it, it was also a great value. Fresh Angus burgers that taste great and do not break the bank. In the words of one of Samuel L. Jackson’s most favored characters: “Mmmmmmm. That IS a tasty burger!”

Trebek Rating: -8

Posted by: floydreport | January 24, 2012

Floyd’s Quest For Cue: Georgia Rib Company

New Year’s Eve, 2011. DaKaari and I were having what is commonly known as “Daddy and DaKaari Day.” Every other Saturday, my wife works; so my son and I are left to do whatever it is that we do ;-) As of late, I’ve been working 6 days a week, and Saturday is my only day off. Saturday is also the only day DaKaari and I get to spend time together, as DaKaari has school during the week; and I work nights, so I’m asleep when he leaves for school, and he’s asleep when I get home. But, I digress.

We set out to lunch on this beautiful Saturday afternoon, and I have a craving for cue. A good friend of mine alerted me of a new cue joint in Northeast Cobb that I should check out. The owner was a former manager at Sam’s BBQ1, a cue joint we absolutely love (it made #2 on that top list of barbecue restaurants in that issue of Atlanta Magazine). So, I got the directions and headed out. Unfortunately, they had run out of meat (which many good cue joints will commonly do), but it seems like they ran out on Thursday. Nevertheless, they placed a sign on the front door stating that they would not return until after the 1st of the year.

After casing the shopping center and coming up unsuccessful in finding a worthy substitute, we proceeded to head over to Sam’s. Surely, they would satisfy my craving for cue (and provide me with enough intel to log their experience in my “quest for cue” blog)! But, alas, they, too, were closed for the holiday. What to do??? After a conference in the car, DaKaari and I decided to embark over to Moe’s Southwest Grill on Johnson Ferry Road, a block from Sam’s BBQ1. When, suddenly, I noticed a sign for Georgia Rib Company.

Nestled between Sam’s BBQ1 and Kroger, on Davidson Road in Marietta is Georgia Rib Company. The building is reminiscent of an old Red Wing Rollerway, or some other kind of roller skating rink. The entrance to the restaurant is where the main entrance to the rink would’ve been. The rest of the structure is a fitness place that escapes my memory right now. It also sits in front of the Marietta Ice Center.

Outside the Georgia Rib Company. Simple and to the point.

 

Walking inside, I felt like I was walking into an exclusive club. The décor was very nice, but more like a night out than walking into a barbecue restaurant. The main lobby leads off into various rooms; a couple looks just to be rental rooms for parties. Given it was Saturday, New Year’s Eve and mid afternoon, I’ll have to forgive this: There was a host/hostess both, but no one was there. So, we were confused as to where to go. We finally saw a couple groups sitting in what appeared to be a sports bar, and came across a server who was carrying food out of the kitchen, who helped directed us where the dining area was.

The lobby is large and a little confusing because of that.

Yes, it does give off a sports bar atmosphere. So, it made me wonder what the night-time groups would be like, as the décor looked to please that type of crowd. There were banners representing just about every college and pro team you could think of. There were high tables with high top chairs, and flat screen TVs plastered all across the top of the bar.

 

The dining area looks more like a sports bar than a cue joint.

 

Okay, on to the most important part: The food! I ordered their “signature” Baby Backs. For $19.99 you get 8 bones with 2 sides. I have to say that the ribs were cooked to perfection. It had a perfect glaze; I didn’t have to add any sauce. It had a perfect crunch on the outside, but they were fall off the bone tender on the inside.

There’s a saying about barbecue: Fat is flavor. However, you have to have the right balance. A good quality meat would have a small amount of fat for flavor, but you should get mostly meat on your ribs. There was virtually no fat on these ribs. From the first bite, you could tell they buy top quality meats and treat them with care.

"Signature" Babybacks plate: 8 bones with 2 sides and toast.

DaKaari wanted a cheeseburger, so we ordered the “kids” cheeseburger. This behemoth almost covered the entire plate! And, what’s even better is that it tasted like it came off your backyard grill! A nostalgic, flavorful taste that was perfectly cooked: Well done, but had plenty of juiciness.

DaKaari’s not a fry eater. Yeah, it’s amazing to hear a five year old isn’t a fry eater. But, neither was I until I got older. So, for his side, we got the mac and cheese. It seems like they might’ve “borrowed” the recipe from Sam’s, which is also common with Sam’s former partners’ joints: Dave Poe’s in West Marietta and Community Q BBQ in Decatur. They all cook with huge pasta (about the size of your thumb, and you could fit your thumb in the noodle), but it has a great, creamy taste to it. The only down side, because of the butter and possibly types of cheeses, is that the dish gets to be pretty oily. Otherwise, tasty mac. My two sides were baked beans and potato salad. The baked beans were not really something to write home about, yet they were still quite tasty. They were typical baked beans for a barbecue restaurant. That being said, some joints don’t know how to bake beans, but this one is definitely a recommended side dish. The potato salad, however, not so much. It tasted like it came from the Kroger Deli, which was a huge disappointment.

"Kids" Cheeseburger with mac n cheese on the side. Tasted like it was cooked on your backyard grill. Mmmmmmemories.

To drink, we both had sweet tea. In the south, there are two things you must have: GREAT barbecue and luscious sweet tea. I like my tea to be SWEET tea, meaning, you best be able to taste that sugar in that tea, but it best not overpower the taste of the tea. Georgia Rib Company did right by me when it came to their tea. Quite delish.

So, if you’re in East Cobb near Johnson Ferry and Lower Roswell Road, give Sam’s BBQ1 a rest every now and then and search out Georgia Rib Company. You just might have another spot on your “cue joint” list.

Trebek Rating: -6

Posted by: floydreport | January 4, 2012

Floyd’s Quest For Cue: My Education

Before we embark on this quest, I feel obligated to tell you of my background. One thing I’ve learned is that opinions vary greatly on great cue; and a lot of it has to do with one’s background. Like many regions, the background of barbecue gives cue its identity. That issue of Atlanta Magazine had a great article on what is Georgia’s identity when it comes to the “Great Cue Debate.” Carolina (both North and South Carolina, but mainly North) is known for its pulled pork. In Texas, it’s the beef brisket. Memphis and Saint Louis are world renowned for their ribs.

So, what is Georgia known for? Other than peanuts and peaches, Georgia is not very well known for much anything else. It’s hard to place an identity with Georgia. A lot of it has to do with the influx of “transplants” we’ve had over the past few decades. Even our sports teams have few “die hard” fans. Many, like me, have grown an appreciation of the sport that it becomes more about the quality of the game as opposed to devotion to the team (a lot of that probably has to do with their lack of success!). As a matter of fact, the only Georgia sports franchise that has a “blind following” is the University of Georgia. You can’t go anywhere in this state where you will not find a black “G” on a red background!

This parallels with Georgia’s identity in the “Great Cue Debate.” Georgia has taken many facets of the other regions, sampled them, and made them an identity of their own. In that sense, it has made us Georgians very well-rounded and cultured in the matter. I’d like to think we have a well-rounded pallet that’s not blinded by regional prejudice. That being said, a pallet is only trained by its experiences.

Of course, one’s education in cue starts with the backyard barbecue. My loving father, bless his heart, taught me a lot on what to do, but much more on what not to do! A backyard barbecue, in my family, was an event. We would have a lot of family and friends over, and Dad would light up the grill. As with any good Southern gathering, in addition to the sweet iced tea, there was plenty of fermented barley in aluminum cans as well, mostly consumed by my father. A man who would order his steaks medium rare at a restaurant would grill his steaks so well done, you couldn’t tell the difference between the seared cow and a piece of charcoal! The flames of his grill would rise so high, you could see them from space!

My restaurant barbecue experience came from THE barbecue restaurant in Augusta, Georgia: Sconyers. Started in 1956 by a couple whose farm was no longer successful, Sconyers has become the “go to” place for barbecue in the Augusta area. Sure, there are many other cue joints in the CSRA (Central Savannah River Area, for those not from there), but they all are imitators of the great Sconyers. The youngest son, Larry, took over the operation before I was born and drove the restaurant to great success, including launching a catering operation. It’s so successful that it’s only open 3 days a week, and is usually packed the entire time. The restaurant, itself, is a log cabin, the parking lot, never paved, is still granite rock to this day. The outside is decorated with old farm equipment. There have been improvements over the years, even at one point moving the entire restaurant up the hill to make room for the first Walmart built in South Augusta. But, it has always kept its Southern charm and hospitality.

Food-wise, there’s two items Sconyers is known for: pulled pork and hash.

Plantation Platter: pulled pork, barbecue hash over rice, a portion of chicken and ribs.

As a matter of fact, I haven’t been able to find hash anywhere else, except in the CSRA! Hash has been compared to Brunswick stew, and in many ways they are similar. But, hash is much thicker, usually served over white rice, and can be eaten as a meal itself, which I have done many times (when I go home for a visit, my Mom and I will usually visit the drive-thru for a few orders of hash that we’ll freeze and I’ll bring back). Sconyers’ pulled pork is tender, seasoned to perfection, and moist, but not overbearing in juices. The potato salad is a great delight as well. Sconyers is not well known for their ribs, and they really don’t have an outstanding taste that would set them apart. The ribs are good and have succulent flavors, but most people do not go to Sconyers for the ribs.

The only thing I would change with Sconyers is the uniforms. The staff is dressed like the old pioneer/plantation house staff, and they seem pretty dated. I understand it can be about the décor, but those outfits are layered and look like heavy cotton, which I’m sure can be a challenge in a hot kitchen! But, Sconyers has held true the one thing that unites any true cue enthusiast: Tradition. Time-tested and honored recipes, cooking styles and bringing people together. So, if you’re ever in the Augusta, Georgia area, make sure it’s on a Thursday, Friday or Saturday, and give Sconyers a try. I’m sure you will not be disappointed.

Trebek Rating: -8

Posted by: floydreport | January 2, 2012

Floyd’s Quest For Cue

There’s one thing that most Southerners should know by heart: Barbecue! Growing up in the South, I’ve learned a thing or two about cue. I’ve also learned that many opinions vary about cue. But, there’s one common thread: There is a BIG difference between good cue and stuff that can barely be called cue.

Cue is a big point of discussion in the South and, as I’ve come to know, in many Northern and Midwestern regions as well. For years I’ve had discussions with my friends from Pittsburg, Chicago, Kansas City, Memphis, Austin, as well as my native friends from Georgia, South Carolina, Alabama and my family from Georgia and Mississippi about what’s good cue and what’s not. But, it was June of 2010 while shopping at Walmart; I just happened upon the magazine rack in the checkout line the July 2010 issue of Atlanta Magazine entitled “Best BBQ.”

Atlanta Magazine's July 2010 Issue

I’ll be honest: I’m not an average magazine reader. I used to read a decent amount (mainly classics; my favorite authors are Dickens and Poe), but now not so much. However, that stack of ribs on the plate in the cover picture, along with the bullet point “58 BBQ joints reviewed” couldn’t pull me any faster to grab it! As a matter of fact, I lost my copy of the magazine at one time and went to the publisher and bought two more copies, one for a backup just in case I lose it again! And, for the last year and a half, I have referred to it from time to time.

This article sent me on a mission: Floyd’s Quest For Cue. It started with “I’m gonna check out the top 10 in this article,” which I still haven’t done fully (it covered the Atlanta and the surrounding area; some cue joints are more than sixty miles from home. That being said, there’s no long distance when it comes to good cue.). But, I’ve also come across a number of cue joints not in the article, many that have popped up since the article’s publishing.

I’ve been intending on adding my review to the Floyd Report, and have no gotten around to doing so. So, without further ado, I give you the “Floyd’s Quest For Cue” category. From time to time, I’ll review some cue joints and slap a Trebek Meter rating on them. Please, feel free to check ‘em out and let me know if you agree or not.

Posted by: floydreport | December 29, 2011

Floyd’s Movie Review: Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol

Are we doing this again? Yes, we are. Since there’s no “Top Gun 2-million” Tom Cruise has to reprise the role of Ethan Hunt in yet, again, another Mission: Impossible movie. You know what? We, the public, don’t care. Mission: Impossible rocked, Mission: Impossible II was, well, eh, and Mission: Impossible III was at least better than II. Nevertheless, the “MI” series has a pretty decent following. And, after five and a half years since the last one, it was time. According to the box office numbers, it’s the right time.

So, what kind of plot could one come up with in this day and age to make an impossible mission? What hasn’t been done? Well, the answer is you don’t necessarily have to do what hasn’t been done, just do what has been done in a different way. This time, in the second from the opening scene we find Ethan Hunt in a Russian prison. “What?” you ask, “Ethan’s in a prison? Doesn’t that disavow him?” Well, yes and no. There’s a reason he’s in the prison, but you’ll just have to see the movie to find out why. What, you thought I was going to spoil the whole movie for you? Why would you go see it, then? Anyway, back to the task at hand. An IMF team busts him out. Hunt, then, gets his next mission to infiltrate the Kremlin to get information on a person of interest code-named Cobalt. During this mission, Ethan’s team is sabotaged by Cobalt by alerting the Russian guard of the IMF team’s presence and blowing up the Kremlin, which the IMF is accused of.

Hunt, caught in the blast, finds himself in a Russian hospital, handcuffed to the gurney. The Russian police find part of his disguise and accuse him of the bombing. He escapes and requests evac, where he is informed by the Secretary himself that the Russians blame the U.S. and IMF for the bombing, and the President has initiated “Ghost Protocol” disavowing all IMF agents. However, the Secretary “does not” tell Hunt about how he can escape and a mission to clear the IMF. Right at the end of the debrief, the vehicle is attacked, and the Secretary killed along with the driver. Ethan and “analyst” William Brandt escape. Brandt is played by Jeremy Renner. Renner played the character Gamble in the movie SWAT, starring Colin Farrell and Samuel L. Jackson. In SWAT, Gamble betrays his unit. I was thinking, since he plays that role so well, Brandt was going to do the same thing. Nope, he’s got a secret, but you’ll have to see the movie to see what it is.

Reuniting with his team, the identity of Cobalt is revealed and found out that he stole a nuclear launch device from the Kremlin. Yes, it’s the old plot line of some nut trying to detonate a nuclear warhead/launch a nuclear missile to start World War III. So, he’s got the device, but he needs the launch codes. It just so happens that, in the opening scene, the IMF team was intercepting a courier for Cobalt that had the launch codes, but the lead agent was killed by a contract killer who now posses the codes. They find out there will be a meet and plan an intercept.

Of course, not everything goes to plan, and Cobalt gets the codes. Now, the third element in this recipe is that Cobalt needs a communications satellite, one that was a former Russian Military satellite. The team then finds out where one would be available and attempt to foil his plans there. However, Ethan met with an “old friend” after Cobalt got the codes to get intel and funding. This is also where the funding for the movie from BMW comes in. It’s a NICE car, I should say, with a display that comes out of “Minority Report.” Of course, I doubt that’ll be in the showroom model, though. Anyway, they go into action. But, Cobalt is one step ahead of them, so they have to execute immediate action, and save the day in the end.

All in all, a good film with good action. There were also plenty of snippets of comic relief, and a cameo by Ving Rhames reprising the role of Luther Stickell. But, even some of the comical wise cracks and scenes were a bit cheesy. And, even with an “impossible mission,” some spots were a bit far-fetched. For example: I’m sure you’ve seen enough trailers of Hunt climbing the walls of the Burj Khalifa in Dubai. The reason was that they needed to infiltrate the server in order to control security cameras and elevators. But, the security for the server is so tight that they had to get to it from the outside. It’s all glass, it’s all windows! You’d think the front desk would be bombarded with calls saying “hey, there’s some nut climbing outside on the window!” Nevertheless, it was a really cool stunt. And, it was a really cool movie. It’s definitely enjoyable and worthy of possibly being number 2 on the list as the best “MI” movie. The first one still gets top billing since it launched the series.

Trebek Rating: -6

Posted by: floydreport | October 17, 2011

Floyd’s Movie Review: Real Steel… The Real Deal?

As evidenced by the box office, movie fans are drawing to Hugh Jackman’s latest flick, Real Steel. This movie was promoted all summer long, I believe the first trailer I saw for it around May. To be honest, I was quite skeptical. I mean, really, it’s a movie about boxing robots, and that reminded me of the classic game Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots. I, literally, asked the question “Really? They made a movie out of Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots???”

Real Steel = Rock Em Sock Em Robots?

Well, not really. The story even precedes the game as the movie is based on a 1956 short story called “Steel” by Richard Matheson. Jackman’s character is Charlie Kenton, a former boxer that had great potential, but failed to capitalize. In addition, just as Charlie was getting to his prime, the boxing world changed and fans wanted to see robots beat each other to pieces instead of humans. Charlie’s arrogance and over confidence has led him to a reputation that he and his robots are not big contenders and his robots have to bout in unsanctioned fights. In the opening scene, Charlie drives to a Texas state fair so his robot could take on a bull. A few spots set the tone that he is deeply in debt, desperate and has been on a downward spiral for a number of years.

Next, we find out that Charlie has a son named Max by an ex girlfriend. Sadly, Max’s mother has died, and the court is attempting to arrange custody. Max’s affluent aunt, Debra, wants to take care of her sister’s child. Charlie, having given up his parental rights to his ex years ago, now sees an opportunity to possibly get out of debt, so he does an “under the table” deal with Debra’s husband to release custody of Max after Debra and her husband return from a summer vacation to Europe.

Charlie, then, uses the money to buy another robot that he quickly loses after it is destroyed in a fight. As he and Max break into a salvage yard for Charlie to find parts to build a new robot, Max stumbles upon a deactivated robot. Max wants it, but Charlie sees no value in it. However, inheriting his father’s stubbornness, Max salvages the buried robot.

What we find through the movie, Max has a superb technical aptitude and Charlie has a natural talent for boxing. Together, they become highly successful to the point that the final fight in the movie is their robot, Atom, against the #1 ranked robot in the sanctioned league, Zeus. Taking a page from Rocky, this fight is a knockout-drag out to the end.

This movie is loaded with action, but it does not water down the story line of a father bonding with his son. It is definitely worth the price of admission as well as a keeper for the collection when the DVD comes out. It’s a great family movie, but also a great date movie as well.

Trebek Rating: -8

Posted by: floydreport | August 24, 2011

The Floyd Report Goes Video!!!

Here’s the link to the Floyd Report’s Youtube page.

Posted by: floydreport | August 17, 2011

The Trebek Meter

As this blog ventures on, I will be doing various movie, music and food reviews. I was thinking of how I could devise a universal rating system instead of doing anecdotes or the boring “star” system. So, I said to myself “why not use the Trebek Meter?”

I’ve trailed away from it a bit on my Facebook page, but some that have followed me for a while love the Trebek Meter and sometimes refer to it themselves. But, for the rest of you that will ask “what the heck is the Trebek Meter?” Here you go.

A few years ago a well-known product in assisting with quitting smoking devised an ad campaign where the quitter was attached to a “Suckometer,” which showed how bad life sucked for them, until they began to chew a piece of this nicotine gum. Then everything didn’t suck. Somehow, this commercial reminded me of the old Saturday Night Live sketches featuring celebrity Jeopardy, with Will Farrell playing Alex Trebek and another actor, who’s name escapes me right now (and I don’t feel like doing the research to look it up, either) playing Sean Connery, who has a morbid hatred for Alex. Many times Connery says “suck it, Trebek” every time this sketch has been done. I’m sure many of you are familiar with it, as it has its own cult following, from “Suck it, Trebek” T-shirts, to motivational posters and who knows what else is out there! It was one of the best sketches! It also featured Norm McDonald playing Burt Reynolds. Oddly, You Tube didn’t have any great clips. This is the best one I could find.

Anyway, I put the two together and came up with the “Trebek Meter.”

Rules of the Trebek Meter

The Trebek Meter is really quite simple, but it can also take some getting used to. The meter is a scale from -10 to 10, and it rates how bad something sucks compared to Alex Trebek. Personally, I have no beef against Trebek, but I definitely believe he’s pretty low on the “Greatest Game Show Hosts of All Time” list. Hey, maybe that’ll be a good future blog topic! Nevertheless, let’s get back on track. So, if it’s something that’s good, it’ll get a negative rating, if it sucks as bad as Trebek, a zero, and if it sucks worse than Alex Trebek, a positive rating.

Here’s an example: The Summer of 2011. This measures an 8 on the Trebek Meter. Why? Because it’s been so freaking hot all summer! In Atlanta, temperatures have been in the mid to upper 90s for much of the entire summer, which is about 10 degrees higher than the normal. Dogs and cats have spontaneously combusted the second they went outside their houses and were exposed to the sun… Okay, not really. But, you get the drift.

So, here it is: The Trebek Meter. I hope you like it; hope it helps you with my likes and dislikes, and that you use it yourself. Why wouldn’t the world be a better place if it were rated by the Trebek Meter?

Peas and Hominy,
Floyd

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